4/13/2024: El Cerrito, California with Squishers and Beafsteek


Santa Rosa and Sebastopol left me with a bittersweet feeling. It’s hard to understand when I go back to a place I’ve lived before why I can’t still live there. I went by Hardcore Espresso, the mostly-outdoors hippie coffee shop I used to go to, often with Naoko, where we would play Peter Rabbit, Robin Hood, or Beatles in a little play cabin on a patch of gravel with several of those red and yellow toy cars outside. I ordered a cup of maté and found I still had a Hardcore punch card in my wallet. Seven more drinks to go. The skies were cloudy and it was a bit chilly to sit outside, so I got in the car and moved on to my bank to deposit the check I received from the Santa Rosa show. It was strange to think that the tellers probably assumed I still lived in the area, and it was strange how it felt to me like I still did, too.

I didn’t have a show on the 12th, so I went to visit my friend John in Berkeley. When I still lived in the area he would play tablas with the Big Kitty band which also included Dean Tisthammer on bass and Henry Nagle on pedal steel guitar. I had never visited his place before, so didn’t realize how small it was when I asked to sleep there. This small space which includes a taxidermied armadillo and bobcat is shared by John, his partner Denise, and their standard poodle, Ram, but they have outfitted a minivan with a bed, so I slept in there. It was a real flashback to my tour with Yuri back in 2009-2010 when we slept on a bed in the back of our Toyota 4Runner, but this iteration was designed much better with insulating, blackout window coverings all around. Also, Denise made a very delicious dinner of stewed lamb, polenta, and roasted potatoes. We had so much to talk about, the conversation was intense, wide-ranging, and full of laughter.

The next day I went to see Daniel, Natacha, and Nico at their house in Richmond (another nearby East Bay city). It had been a few years since I’d come and they had a second dog, in addition to Bear. This one is named Captain Noodles and is completely blind, due to the fact that he has no eyes. But he gets by pretty well with the other senses. Daniel and I more or less immediately began playing some of his instruments – accordion, cello, bass – before getting dressed up to go to a neighbor’s birthday party – a joint party for a 2-year-old girl and her mom who had birthdays near to but not on the 13th of April (which is Samuel Beckett’s birthday). The theme was animals but having no animal costumes, I was given a birthday cake (with candles) hat and a vest of (plastic) flowers that Yuri and Naoko made for me about 7 years ago and that we had given to Daniel. We spent a couple hours over there watching Lucía eat chocolate cupcakes and meeting people before heading back over to Daniel’s home studio to record one of his songs, “Carpe Diem,” which he’s made over 10 versions of, including one on the new ADD/C album. That was fun, and we managed to finish just in time to be fashionably late for the show that night at the Little Hill Lounge.

I had played at this venue, which is partly owned by old friend Teddy, when I still lived in the area. It looked more or less the same upon entering, except nicer and more established. They have a bar area with fancy booths in the front and a stage in the back where a sound engineer was setting up for the local askew-country group Beafsteek. After them Squishers (with Daniel, Teddy, Rymodee, and Maria of the Bananas). I was set to play last, though I thought I should go before the full bands, and also I wanted to be able to enjoy listening to them without having to anticipate what I would do onstage. But it was good to give me time to get ready and organize all the little things I would need. I decided not to play it as straight as the last couple of nights, and I put on my Rolly Lighthouse drag clothes. This time I also had a lipstick that I bought at a Dollar Tree, which should be called the Dollar-25 Tree, as that is what everything costs there. So I introduced Big Kitty as Rolly Lighthouse, sloppily applying lipstick on my face at the beginning – I kept this on all night long, completely forgetting about it. I DID record the other shows and Squishers did play the song “Carpe Diem” that we’d just recorded earlier that afternoon!

It was fun having Daniel up front reacting to the songs like “YES!” or “HAHA!” – I loved that, though I had to close my eyes a lot to stay on track with the songs I was playing. I’ve definitely gotten better at playing these new songs, and the shows are getting better, so please be there for the last shows of the tour! It was so fun to hang out with my friends in the East Bay.

There’s a lot of driving ahead of me so I’m going to cut this short here. Godspeed!

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